The Most Educated Countries in the World
Posted on September 26th, 2015

Courtesy Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Russia is the most educated country in the world, according to the latest figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), followed by Canada and then Japan.

The United States and United Kingdom do make it into the top ten, in fifth and seventh places respectively.
Overall spending on education in the UK has gone up and the country’s tertiary graduation rates have increased, according to 24/7 Wall St. journal that has released the list of world’s most educated countries. In addition, a growing interest from international students in the UK since 2000 has paid off in the ranking as the country is second only to the United States for the most preferred destination for international studies.
“The most educated populations tend to be in countries where spending on all levels of education is among the highest. The United States, for example, spent 7.3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education in 2010, the sixth highest among the countries,” the authors said.
The report suggests that most of the best educated countries tend to have higher levels of advanced skills, which account for low unemployment rates in those countries. Moreover, the best educated countries excel in literacy and maths proficiency exams (mainly Japan, Canada and Finland) and have lower unemployment levels.
“After the strong impact of the financial crisis, not surprisingly, unemployment rates increased at each level of education, but the increase has been smaller among higher-educated people. At higher levels of attainment, people are less exposed to unemployment and have better chances to keep participating actively in the economic system, for the benefit of both individuals and society,” OECD’s analyst, Gara Rojas González, was quoted as saying by the journal.
Top ten educated countries:
1) Russia
2) Canada
3) Japan
4) Israel
5) United States
6) Korea
7) UK
8) New Zealand
9) Finland
10) Australia
The list was prepared after analysing the data of OECD’s Education at a Glance 2013 report.
The ten most educated countries were chosen based on the highest proportion of adults holding a college degree and the total spending on education.

1) Russian Federation
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 53.5%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): N/A
> Tertiary education spending per student: $7,424 (the lowest)

More than 53% of Russian adults between the ages of 25 and 64 had some form of higher education in 2012, more than in any other country reviewed by the OECD. The country has reached this exceptional level of attainment despite spending among the least on tertiary education. Russia’s tertiary education expenditure was just $7,424 per student in 2010, roughly half the OECD average of $13,957. Russia was also one of just a few countries where education spending declined between 2008 and 2012.

2) Canada
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 52.6%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): 2.3% (8th lowest)
> Tertiary education spending per student: $23,225 (2nd highest)

More than half of Canadian adults had received tertiary qualification in 2012, the only country other than Russia where a majority of adults had some form of higher education. Canada’s education expenditure of $23,226 per student in 2011 trailed only the United States’ expenditure. Canadian students of all ages appear to be very well-educated. Secondary school students outperformed the majority of countries in mathematics on the PISA in 2012. And nearly 15% of adults in the country performed at the highest level of literacy proficiency, versus an OECD average of 12%.

3) Japan
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 46.6%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): 2.8% (12th lowest)
> Tertiary education spending per student: $16,445 (10th highest)

Like the U.S., Korea, and the United Kingdom, private spending accounts for the vast majority of spending on tertiary education in Japan. While this can often lead to social inequalities, Schleicher explained that like most Asian countries, Japanese families are by and large willing to save money for their children’s educations. Strong education spending and participation in higher education does not necessarily translate to higher academic skills. In Japan, however, higher spending did lead to better learning outcomes, as more than 23% of adults performed at the highest level of literacy proficiency, nearly double the OECD average of 12%. Younger students also seem to be well-educated, as Japan reported exceptionally high Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores in mathematics in 2012.


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